Some Christians believe Jesus is a created god, while others conclude he is divine, but only a man. None of those who hold a low view of Jesus believe he is God Almighty or Jehovah / YHWH or of the same essence as his Father.
Obviously it is impossible for us to know and understand anything about God that is not revealed in his word. Notice:
Deuteronomy 29:29 KJV The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.
2 John 1:9 NET. Everyone who goes on ahead and does not remain in the teaching of Christ does not have God. The one who remains in this teaching has both the Father and the Son.
We are cautioned in the Scriptures to remain within the teaching of Jesus and no go beyond or run ahead of him and assume we can know what he has not revealed. This is a problem I think the fourth century fathers got into by defining God by means of the Trinity doctrine. It would be equally true to say any Christian or group of Christians who teach what occurred before creation are presuming upon forbidden territory. What we have are the Scriptures. If it is not spelled out in them, it is not ours to know at this present time.
There is enough revealed within the Scriptures to show that Jesus is God in the flesh. I have shown in other studies he is the very one who Israel called Almighty God. However, if Jesus had a beginning i.e. before the beginning of creation, we cannot know this. It certainly seems logical, if God created time, that time does not exist in eternity and that God lives in an eternal present, having no past or future. If this is so, then Jesus would have no beginning. However, this is not really revealed in the text. It is an assumption on my part, based upon what I read in the text and what I assume God created (viz. time). I have no right to make claims about God that are not specifically revealed in the Scriptures, but neither does anyone else!
I once discussed the value of Jesus’ life with a couple of neighbors in my home. One of the gentlemen admitted that, if Jesus was the same essence as the Father and paid the price of sin, the total sin debt of mankind would be paid and there would be no need for further payment such as purgatory or future ages where we live to make up for what we did or did not do here. We discussed 1Timothy 2:6 where we see Jesus gave himself as a ransom (Greek an equivalent ransom) for all. The point my neighbors tried to make was Jesus’ ransom price was equivalent for only those who would be saved—he paid their price. However, I turned to Romans 5 where Jesus is compared with Adam. Adam’s rebellion affected all of mankind, and the Scripture shows there in Romans 5 that Jesus’ sacrifice affected all mankind, not just those who would believe. Nevertheless, I could not convince them that Jesus was indeed that precious and the ransom equivalent for the task. We never spoke again.
I believe it is sad to see the condition of people who have a low opinion of Jesus. I do not question their love for him. It is their doctrine that is wrong. I don’t judge such people. I consider them brethren, but this is not the traditional Christian viewpoint. I entrust them to Jesus. He saved them and me. I believe he is more honorable and more merciful than theologians like Athanasius, one of our early church fathers who condemned such people. Nevertheless, wrong doctrine will keep even those who love God from completely enjoying the wonderful inheritance we have in his Son.
I once heard a story about a prince who fell among thieves. They beat him and left him for dead. He awoke and recovered from his wounds, but he had lost his memory. The prince lived for years among the people but didn’t know the inheritance that was his. When the king found his son all was restored, but the prince could have enjoyed all that was his father’s for years before – but he just didn’t know.
This is how I perceive those who do not and perhaps cannot believe Jesus is God. False doctrine is a strong spiritual phenomenon that, if left unchecked, takes away or otherwise makes the word of God of no effect in the heart of the believer. The Pharisees had partial truth but thought they knew truth that the masses did not possess. The apostles were often tripped up with their doctrine (Matthew 17:10-13; cp. Matthew 16:6-12; Mark 4:24-25; Luke 8:18), but Jesus did not remove the bad seed from their hearts and minds immediately. He waited for an opportune moment and healed them of their spiritual darkness acquired through believe in false doctrine.
Spiritual truth is not understood in the same manner that we come to know truth like math or literature in school. Jesus must heal people of their false beliefs, because false doctrine is a spiritual stronghold (cp. Luke 24:30-35). It is a spiritual matter, not a mental one. One cannot merely compare what one believes with what another believes and expect to discern truth, so one cannot expect someone who is spiritually deluded to recognize the truth when it is shown to him. The spiritual stronghold is broken through much prayer and study. One must be healed of spiritual delusion, not simply reeducated. I am comfortable leaving this matter in the Lord’s hands, while entreating those who believe differently to consider Jesus more closely. I do this, hoping that our heavenly Father will open their eyes to see Jesus more clearly.
If the reader wishes to follow this series, the next study is: And the Word Was … divine!